If you’ve ever experienced insomnia you know the feeling. Waking up at some ungodly hour in the middle of darkness and wondering if it’s early enough to get back to sleep before the alarm goes off. Or hoping it’s late enough that you can cobble together a story in your mind of all the things you would accomplish if you woke up this early every morning.
I’m up early. Not early enough to get back to sleep. Not late enough to springboard a life of productivity. It’s 3:45 a.m. I don’t exactly know why I’m up. Frankly, it could be a number of things. Is it the pandemic? Could it be the stress of the holidays? I’ve had some personal struggles as of late. Those are a contender too.
Then I remember. Scott died.
You probably didn’t know Scott. To say I did is a stretch. I was a follower. I knew him more as username@socialmediasite. I couldn’t tell you what connected us. My best guess is my brief use of an oral chemo that was mostly used to treat his disease. As often goes online, I likely found him through a hashtag.
We didn’t interact outside of a few pleasant exchanges in the comments section of his posts, but his words were always a comfort to me. His dark humor, his brutal honesty made me feel less alone as I walked my path. We didn’t have the same disease, but we had a very similar mindset about living with illness.
It’s not to say that I’m not sad over his death. I am. But I knew it was coming. It was inevitable. He’d exhausted every treatment. I will certainly miss his wit, his fight. But missing him is not what woke me up. Missing my life is.
Scott knew he was dying. That was a brutal truth. I can’t tell you if that’s why he seemed to love life so much. From my perspective, he would have lived that way even if he’d been afforded the luxury of good health. He seemed not to be living to spite the disease that was taking him. It just looked like he had a life so pleasant that any extra day he could live it was worth whatever brutal treatment he had to endure.
It could certainly be argued this was my perception of the small parts of his life I was allowed to see. That is one of the pitfalls of social media. I’d argue that wasn’t the case. His words of gratitude about his family, his delight in simple pleasures, his love of nature were some of the purest I’ve read. He loved the life he had. I just know it.
I’ve been thinking about that. I’ve been thinking about what happiness is. I’ve been thinking about what it would be like to love my life every single day. I’ve been thinking about what my final words will be someday. What will I be thinking when my time comes? How do I find that peace?
I think it’s possible Scott really didn’t do anything to find his joy and peace. Instead of working towards a life of ‘someday’ he just went ahead and lived a life of here and now. Maybe he didn’t think about ‘the right way’ to do things, he just did what was right for him. He didn’t build the path to get to his life. The path was his life. No assembly required.
Death is inevitable for all of us. Some of us just don’t know it yet. It’s coming, though. And that’s really why I’m up at such an unkind hour. I’m thinking of the end, which means I have to think about right now. The beginning of the end.
I’m far enough out from my surgery and treatments that I’ve settled into a bit of complacency. Nearly two years indoors hasn’t helped. Even day to day life has gotten in the way of living. The clock doesn’t care. It does what it’s made to do. That is why I’m awake. That’s what’s on my mind. I know I’m wasting time. Chances are, so are you.
I know I wouldn’t have peace at the end if the end were now. There’s so much left to do, to say, to know. I live in the chaos of uncertainty and doubt, never knowing where to plant my feet. I planned the path instead of walking it. Forgot how to follow the little joys that mark the way.
Then I remember. Scott died. And someday I will too.